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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christmas Foiled or Christmas Forgiveness?

Today I wasn't feeling well. I had the two littlest boys napping so I told the three older ones to play nice and get along while I soaked in the tub for 20 minutes.

As I was relaxing in the tub I heard some thumping and bumping in the kitchen, which is just on the other side of my bathroom wall. I then heard a very excited voice shouting, "Man of Steel! Man of Steel! Dad bought The Man of Steel!!" I then heard some excited squeals from the two other boys.

I quickly remembered a night last week when Ryan came home from work and placed a shopping bag on top of the kitchen cabinets saying, "This is for Christmas." The bag was on top of the cabinets over the stove. Our cabinets have a crown molding all the way around with a substantial lip that someone would not be able to see over unless, as was obviously the case here, someone was standing on top of the stove and looking in that direction.

My blood boiled as I shouted out the perpetrator's name. When the guilty party was standing outside the bathroom door I berated him for "ruining a Christmas surprise." I said something along the lines of, 'Dad hid that there because he thought that none of you would look there. Now you've ruined a Christmas surprise not only for all of your brothers but for me as well!'

He apologized and claimed he didn't know. He left and I laid there seething.

Before long another Christmas came to mind. We were spending the holiday at my parent's house. Ryan and I had, had a late night preparing Christmas for our children and early Christmas morning our oldest son crept out of bed, and without waking anyone else unwrapped each of his presents. (he only unwrapped gifts with his name on them, which is really quite impressive, considering he was only 3 at the time.)

When we awoke to discover what he had done, we were a little put out, to say the least. Ryan was so upset that he was ready to send Tate back to bed and not allow him to keep any of his gifts. Thankfully, my wise, and much more experienced mother swept in to rescue the situation.

She scurried us out of the room, took all of the ripped wrapping paper scraps and hastily taped them back to the packages. She stacked Tate's gifts in a pile and we continued on with gift opening as if nothing had happened. When it was Tate's turn to open a gift he would go over to the pile, take one out and proudly show us what he had been given.

That year we didn't know who had given him what but he was happy and consequently so were we.

We took a negative situation that could have ruined the holiday for all of us, and with a attitude of love and forgiveness we moved past a 3 year old's mistake and had a lovely day.

My heart began to soften as I got out of the tub. While I was toweling off I remembered yet another Christmas. This one much longer ago, when I, myself was a little girl.

That Christmas we drew names within our family. My brother Gavin had drawn my name. I knew that he had gone shopping with my Mom and curiosity got the best of me. I started poking around and discovered the desire of my young heart. He had bought me a My Little Pony. It was mint green with lander hair and scented like ice cream. I immediately fell in love!

As the month of December progressed I thought of little but my My Little Pony, laying under the  tree, wrapped in pretty paper. As Christmas grew closer I began to worry that someone would discover that I knew, I was afraid of being reprimanded for peaking at my present. So I began practicing my best "surprised face." I worried so much that Christmas lost some of it's glitter that year.

By the time I left the bathroom, after my bath, I had tears in my eyes and forgiveness in my heart.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Being a SAHM

[Disclaimer: I am merely sharing my thoughts on this subject and do not mean to offend anyone mentioned here-in, neither do I  wish to offend anyone else who may happen upon this post.]

There has been an article called "You're a Stay-at-Home Mom? What do you do all day?" that was written and published on "The Matt Walsh Blog" on October 9. Since that time the article has gone viral. I have seen it shared several times on facebook, and actually shared it myself.

I read and enjoyed the article and  I felt empowered and justified as a Stay At Home Mom when I read:
"Yes, my wife is JUST a mother. JUST. She JUST brings forth life into the universe, and she JUST shapes and molds and raises those lives. She JUST manages, directs and maintains the workings of the household, while caring for children who JUST rely on her for everything. She JUST teaches our twins how to be human beings, and, as they grow, she will JUST train them in all things, from morals, to manners, to the ABC’s, to hygiene, etc. She is JUST my spiritual foundation and the rock on which our family is built. She is JUST everything to everyone. And society would JUST fall apart at the seams if she, and her fellow moms, failed in any of the tasks I outlined."
It's unfortunate that our society has gone in such a direction that moms feel they have to defend their choice to be a "stay at home mom". If you choose to stay at home you are often viewed as unambitious and lazy. I may not be the perfect homemaker. I fall behind on dishes and laundry. My bathroom isn't always clean and often times it hits 6pm and I still have no idea what I'm making for dinner. You may not be able to measure what I have accomplished in tasks, but what I have given my children is worth more.
I have the best job in the world. Rewarding, beautiful, sacred and exhausting.

I felt invigorated and empowered as I read this moving article of a man appreciating the roles his wife was filling, but that feeling was quickly shattered as I skimmed the comments on the post filled with women attacking one another's choices to either become a working mother, or to be a stay at home mom.

We, as women, should not be judging one another. As mothers and as members of society we are each trying to do our very best, and we should be supporting each other in those roles not dishing out judgement. I feel that we all beat our selves up about everything. Our lives are riddled with guilt because, no matter what it is we are doing, we feel like we are not doing enough. I think that is largely because we were not meant to do it alone! We should be lifting, helping and supporting one another - easing each others burdens and offering understanding, not judgement.

My mother was not a stay-at-home-mom. She taught elementary school from the time before she met my Dad until I was graduated from high school. She had reservations about remaining in the work force, because she felt like her place was in the home, but my Dad convinced her that our family could not survive on his income alone.

Even with two incomes I don't think we had any extra money. My parents are both very frugal and I don't think I owned a dress that wasn't either hand-made or had at least one previous owner, until I was 12 years old and I bought one myself with money I had saved.

My young life was filled with babysitters and daycare. I look back on some of my care-givers with love and others with loathing. Most of my favorite memories, ironically, are from days when I was sick. Because on those days my Mom would have to get a substitute and stay home with me all day.

There was one December when I and my three brothers all had chicken-pox. My Mom got off work for a whole week and we made Christmas ornaments, paper chains, and cookies. We watched Christmas specials on TV while Mom rubbed Calamine lotion on us. It was the best Christmas-time I can remember.

There was another day, much later in my life, when I was in high school. I was sick, and although I was old enough to take care of myself my Mom got a sub and we spent the day lounging on couches watching old movies.

I wonder, if such things had been an every day occurrence would they have meant so much to me? I don't resent my mother for working outside the home. Quite the contrary, I commend her for her years of service to other people's children. It's mind boggling to think of the hundreds of little lives she has touched and influenced in her over 20 years of teaching. Where would our society be without good teachers!?
My children all have wonderful teachers, and they are mothers as well.

I am one of five children and although we did not grow up with a stay-at-home-mom I feel like we are all well adjusted, happy adults. We have a close relationship with each other, we get along and we are an, all around, happy family.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a home with a mother who stayed home. He has idealized his growing up years and asks why I don't "do more" with our kids. He claims that his Mom always had craft projects and learning activities for them to do. She decorated for every holiday (and still does.) AND made a meal plan every week.

Yet, with all of that, now that he and his brothers are grown up they hardly have anything to say to each other. Although each of the boys seem to have a close relationship with their parents, their mother in particular, they don't seem to have a lot in common with each other. (Ryan claims it's because he has no sisters, and girls are what glue a family together.) I know that every family dynamic is different, but I would not say that he and his siblings are any better off (having had a SAHM) than me and my siblings are (having had a mom who worked.)

When I got married my husband very adamantly stated, "My wife will NEVER work outside the home!" At the time I was a little insulted. I felt like my, however well meaning husband, was being controlling and taking away my agency on the matter.

In a small act of defiance, and to show that I was still in control of my time. I continued to work at the Early Learning Center where I had worked prior to our marriage until we had our first son.

In our 10 years of marriage we have never been very wealthy. I love staying home with my children and feel like it is where I should be. On occasion we have very briefly discussed the possibility of me entering the work force, but the thought is always quickly dismissed as we discuss child care costs (not only monetary, but emotional cost as well.)

However, living on one income has not always worked for us. We have struggled to live within our means. We've spent many years relying on government funded programs such as WIC, Medicaid and Food Stamps. I struggle with that because I feel like my staying at home is putting a burden on society.

Three years ago my husband was promoted to a management position and since that time we have been able to manage more or less on our own, but every month is a struggle.

There are single mothers, who obviously need to work to support their family. But there are others who, for whatever reason, cannot afford to stay at home. We, as member as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints have been advised, that whenever possible, the mother's place is in the home. The prophets and apostles have counciled us on this subject:
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “I recognize … that there are some women (it has become very many, in fact) who have to work to provide for the needs of their families. To you I say, do the very best you can. I hope that if you are employed full-time you are doing it to ensure that basic needs are met and not simply to indulge a taste for an elaborate home, fancy cars, and other luxuries.”
Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “You in these unusual circumstances qualify for additional inspiration and strength from the Lord. Those who leave the home for lesser reasons will not."
This decision, like so many others in life, is between the Lord and those directly involved. The rest of us, who are not intimately involved with the circumstances surrounding the decisions of others should just know that we are each doing our best, we each have the best interest of our families in mind and it is not our place to judge.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Yesterday we were supposed to have our family pictures taken.
After my brother Gavin's accident (he fell 30 feet while trimming a tree in his front yard on July 13th) a lady here in Idaho Falls organized an auction to raise money for his family.
A local photographer donated a photo session that I bid on and won.
I thought that it would be fun to do a fall shoot with all of the pretty autumn leaves. the photographer said that it was best to do it the beginning of October if you wanted all of the leaves (before they are all gone.) So we scheduled the shoot for  last Thursday, October 3, but it snowed! So we rescheduled for yesterday, October 10.
The photographer, Whitney, likes to do the photo shoots an hour before sunset, because the lighting isn't too harsh. So we had planned to meet at Freeman park yesterday at 5:45pm. By the time we got there it was windy and rainy. So we had to reschedule again! We're planning to try again next week (and hope that the leaves hang on a bit longer.
I had us all so cute - all matching in maroon and gray. I even curled my hair! (That doesn't happen very often.) It was kind of a bummer.
After getting rained out of our photo shoot we decided that since we were all dressed up and out of the house that we should go somewhere, so we went to the library.
We all found books and movies to borrow and by the time we were done it was 6:55. I thought that since it was nearly 7:00 we should stay for the family story time. Because one of our favorite librarians, Jamaila, does story time and there were no other families in the story room yet ( I would hate to have no one show up for Jamaila.)
By that time we'd already been at the library for an hour, so our kids were getting antsy, and our baby wanted to nurse. So, Ryan and the 4 older boys went to the story room while I went to the car to nurse the baby.
When I came back story time had already started - There was us, and 2 other families there (with 2 kids each) so I'm glad we stayed. The topic was "Friendship" Briar loves the songs and finger plays so he had a good time.
When story time was over we went to the car and realized that I had accidentally locked the keys in the car. Once I got to the car I'd just thrown the keys in the cup holder and sat down in the passenger seat to feed my baby. Once he was done eating I said, "OK, let's go!"  I picked him up, opened the door, got out, pushed the "lock" button on the door and shut it.
Ryan had not brought his set of keys, and mine were locked in the car. We were stuck. It was dark, cold and rainy and our kids were tired, grouchy and hungry.
We went back in to try and decide what to do. Tate and Oran sat down on one of the couches in the children's section. On the adjacent couch sat a nice Grandpa man (in his 60s) they struck up a conversation.
Ryan and I stood at the desk discussing our options with one of the librarians.
Ryan had left his cell phone in the car and mine was at home. we decided that the best option was to call someone to come get Ryan, take him home to get the other set of keys and bring him back again. I left Ryan leafing through the phone book hoping to find someone we knew listed.
I walked back over to see how Oran and Tate were doing (Briar was in my arms, Skyler was wrapped around one of my legs and Canton had run off.) The man on the couch looked up and said, "Is this lady your Mom?" Tate, Oran and I all answered in the affirmative. Then he said, "I hear you've lost some keys." I explained the situation and he offered to give Ryan a ride home to get the other keys.
I went and told Ryan about the man's generous offer. The man went to get his wife and they took Ryan home.
While the kids and I waited the big boys all played games on the computers while Briar and I sat close by and played with puppets and read board books.
Ryan brought his own car back so that the nice couple who has helped us wouldn't have to bring him back to the library.
By the time we finally left the library it was a quarter after 8:00pm and we still hadn't eaten any dinner! Ryan took Canton with him in his car and the 2 of them went to pick up a Papa Murphy's pizza while I took the other boys home, preheated the oven (to cook the pizza), and got them in their pajamas.
We then had to cook and eat the pizza. So by the time we got the kids to bed it was 10:00.
This morning everyone slept in. The boys were nearly late for school - and I sent them out the door with messy hair.

I learned 3 things: 
1. Things don't always work out the way you plan.
2. There are much worse places to be stranded than the public library.
3. There are still kind people in the world!

And, since all posts are more fun with pictures - Here's a picture of baby bathing in the kitchen sink.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Unraveling (In more than one way)

It's been all down hill for me since the Heath and Fitness Challenge I was participating in ended.  I knew that it would be harder to maintain my healthier lifestyle during the summer but I didn't think it just fall apart as completely as it has. 
The kids are all out of school now so I have all five of the little ones home all day everyday. Which means they demand more of my time and attention (leaving next to none for little old me.) 
My diet it horrible. I fix food for the littles and either forget to make myself something, or I'm too tired, or whatever they are eating just doesn't look appealing. Then I'm hungry from skipping meals and so I snack and snack on things that aren't very healthy. 
Baseball season has started so I have to run the three older boys to games and practices. 
We had a family reunion. Which was so much fun, but got me out of the habit of exercising and eating well. (When everyone else is eating Doritos, Oreos, Twizzlers and Reese's you HAVE to join in, right!?)
I've been so busy and frazzled yet I haven't established any kind of daily routine or schedule.  I haven't exercised in 3 weeks! I feel exhausted, sluggish and I like I have to start all over again (from the beginning.) *Groan* I'm UP 10 pounds since the end of the challenge. 
My motivation is gone and I'm having a hard time wanting to put in the effort that it will require to get back on track.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Change is Hard

We have only a few days left in the 2012-2013 school year. For us this marks more than a change in grade and teachers these will be the last few days that we can call ourselves Discovery Dragons.

They have been building a new school near our home, they are only a month away from completion and, with the new school boundaries we will be attending the new school with a new principal, new teachers and even some new students.

My children have mixed feeling about the change. They are excited to be going to a brand new building but are sad to be leaving behind the familiarity they have with Discovery.

Yesterday my 9 year old had a rough day. He was being really mean to his brothers so I pulled him aside for a talk, to see if I could get to the bottom of his "attitude." As soon as I asked him what was wrong he melted into a puddle of tears and stifled sobs. After stripping away a few layers it seemed that one of the main causes for his distress was the upcoming changes that accompany the move to a new school.

Tate has had a hard time making friends, he's not as outgoing, socially, as his younger brother(s) and has finally made a couple of good friends this year. Both of the boys that are his "best friends" will be staying at Discovery. Tate is afraid that he won't be able to make any friends at the new school.

My heart just breaks for him. All of my boys are unique individuals with their own quirks I can see why it might be difficult for them to make friends, but at the same time I feel helpless to remedy the situation.
I too am having a hard time with this change. I get a little choked up whenever I think of leaving the principal and teachers who have helped, taught and loved my children.

Although change is a hard thing, for every one, I am ready for a new adventure. I am praying for the best in the coming school year for my children. I want them to be happy, I want them to feel accepted and I want them to have FRIENDS!
Tate playing dress-up he's supposed to be "Dark Link." http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lm0kvWPTf8M/Tlcsw9HrGoI/AAAAAAAAAJE/s0CtiBDnyJA/s1600/Darklink.jpg

Monday, May 20, 2013

Because I'm Worth it!

I am about to embark on the final week of the Health and Fitness Challenge I have been participating in with my friend Evelyn and all of my other new friends. I am a little sad about the challenge ending. This challenge was about more than loosing weight it has been about forming healthy habits that can become a way of life. I'm a little worried because I'm not sure that I can keep it up!

For most of the challenge I did really well. I drank at least 64 ounces of water every day, didn't eat after 9:00pm, ate 3 servings of vegetables and 2 of fruit every day. Didn't eat sweets or treats and exercised at least 30 minutes every day! I was feeling good, feeling strong. But after not seeing any weight loss after a week of working hard I felt discouraged and this last week fell back into old habits, I didn't do the things that I should be doing, not just for this challenge, but for the life style that I want to lead!

Since this is the final week I plan to push it hard and do my very best, I don't think I have much of a chance to win (there is a pretty hefty reward) but I feel like if I finish strong and give it my all I will have fewer regrets.

I know that living in the world that we do, and loving desserts as much as I do, there is no way that I can have a perfect diet or even a perfect exercise record all of the time. But I want to do what I can to be healthy and maintain at least some level of fitness.

So, I've thought about where I want to be and what I want to accomplish as far as my health is concerned:

1. I want to have enough energy to play with my kids. They deserve a healthy, active Mom who will go out and play catch, kick a soccer ball, jump on the trampoline and ride bikes! (To reach this goal I plan to put myself to bed earlier and find time in my day to exercise - building up strength and endurance so it will be there when I need it!)

2. I want to provide my family with healthy meals at least 5 nights a week. (Which for me means better planning and more grocery trips.)

3. I want to loose another 30 pounds to be at my "goal weight" and fit into the clothes that I've been hanging on to. (I want to be proud of the girl I see in the mirror, a little self-centered? Maybe, but I think I'm worth it!)
Just as a point of reference: This picture was taken February 21, 2003 - my awesome roommate Meijn and I bought these silly pants at TJ Maxx. We wore them on their "maiden voyage" to a young single adult dance at ISU where I met my husband. Yeah, we were pretty cool.

Here is a more recent picture. Taken March 25, 2013 at my Grandmother's funeral. This is my fabulous sister and I, yeah, she's a lot of fun.

I feel like the last 10 years have not been very kind to me, my body in particular. But that's what being married and having 5 kids will do to a person. It's time that I reclaimed this body! Chocolate does not own me! AND I am worth it!

This may be the end of an 8 week Health and Fitness Challenge, but it just can't be the end! I want to continue forming healthy habits and making them just that, HABITS! I want to be healthy not only for me, but so that I can be the best me for all of those who need ME!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Yucky Kind of Day

I'm feeling super sad today. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because my house is such a mess, maybe it's because my kids won't stop fighting or maybe it's because I was up all night with a crying baby (for the last week and a half!) Whatever it is though - I'm ready to just give up and go sit in a corner and cry!

I've had some problems with depression in the past, especially since having kids, and have felt myself really fighting it since Sunday. What do you do when you feel depressed?

Right now I feel like I'm at the brink of a cliff, teetering on the edge of a dark pit. I can't see the bottom, but I've been down there and I know how hard it is to climb out again.

I feel like there is a bit of a stigma toward depression, clinical or not, particularly among members of my faith. I've felt it even more since moving to Idaho Falls. No one seems to want to admit their short comings. No one wants to admit that they have a problem, and no one wants to be the one who asks for help.

I've seen studies on it in the past, Latter-day Saint women are one of the groups with the highest depression rate. Mainly because we are trying so hard to be perfect in every aspect of our lives. I think it's great to strive for perfection, but all of us need to realize that perfection is not possible!

I do believe that living in accordance to gospel standards and living the way that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints teaches is the way to happiness, particularly for me. But I'm not sure that it is the cure all for all depression.

From the time I was very young the answers for depression were "Pray harder," or "Loose yourself in service to others." "Put off the natural man." "Rely on the Spirit." I do believe that this advise is good, and can be helpful, but I don't think that it is all encompassing or all healing.

I've taken anti-depressant medication in the past, and although it helped me through some very difficult times I didn't like who I became on the medication. True I wasn't sad, but I wasn't happy either. I felt like I was just drifting through life in neutral. I was numb to all emotion.

So what is the answer? I've heard things like "Just decide! Decide that you're going to be happy." Will that really work? Can my own will power be enough to squash the depression monster?

Do I just need to accept that life isn't perfect? I cannot control every thing and some days my house is going to be messy and I am going to be too tired to do anything about it.

What makes me a "Good Mom"? Is being a "Good Mom" yelling at my kids until they clean up their messes (leaving me without a voice and my kids in tears) or would I be a better Mom if I just let the mess slide and spend the day watching cartoons and playing video games?

So what's the answer? Is there an answer? Am I the only one dealing with this!?

Since every post is better with pictures: Here is the baby who has decided that he no longer needs to sleep at night.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Easter Pictures

Every Easter we try to take a family picture before church. I don't know why, but it seems like a good tradition, so we've kept it up. As our family has grown it has gotten harder and harder to get everyone ready and out the door in time for church on Sunday mornings. This year Easter was no different. 

We decided to snap our yearly picture(s) quickly before heading to church. The sun was bright so we're all squinting and we look like we were rushed as we threw on church clothes and got ready to leave. The result was some pretty bad pictures, and the reason why I haven't shared them before today. 

Bad as they are, they are the only family pictures we have so far as a family with ALL five of our little boys. Our baby is now 5 months old (time sure flies!)

Here's one of Skyler, our 2 year old, just cause I thought it was cute. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

I love my library because...

It is National Library Week (April 14-20, 2013.) The Idaho Falls Public Library has been celebrating all month with contests, prizes and activities. They are holding an essay contest on 'why I love my library.' My children are sitting at the table busily writing their essays in hopes of winning a $25 gift certificate.

All of this is causing me to reflect on why I love the library.

Since moving to Idaho Falls we have been very involved in the library community. Oran, Skyler and I attended a children's class for "early readers." It was a six week class that we attended on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We heard stories, did art projects and got to bring home (and keep) books, CDs, and games that went along with things we had talked about in the class.

We've attended "parties" and "activities" as well as story time and free community classes.

Ryan and I had the privilege of completing the "Love and Logic" parenting classes at the library. We attended weekly classes for 6 weeks and really enjoyed the teachers as well as the things we were able to learn.

I feel that libraries are an essential public good. People need a place to go where they can learn, grow, develop new skills and have new experiences. It seems like prices of everything continues to climb. Admission to museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and theaters are sky rocketing. For a family of 7, like mine, the thought of buying so many tickets to an event or exhibit is painful.

Public libraries are free, non-commercial, gathering places that are open to everyone, regardless of income. People of all ages can gather together to use computers, read books, and attend classes. The library is where education continues after school ends. It's where readers are grown from the time they are young and where doors are open to welcome everyone.
If knowledge is power, than the library is a substation, buzzing with electricity, with the books just sitting on the shelves waiting to light up our minds.

I have been able to read countless books over the past year and a half. I love the ability I have to search the library catalog from the comfort of my own home and request books that I would like to read. It is so nice to see the books I have requested with my name on them, patiently waiting to be picked up.

Books are an expensive commodity, and if I had not been able to borrow books from the library, free of charge, there is no way that I could have fed my love for the written word over the course of my lifetime. 

We have read several books together as a family. I love instilling in my children a love for books and feel a little thrill whenever they would rather read another chapter in our current story than watch a movie. Every story opens a window into a new world. We have enjoyed visiting all of these strange new places contained in the pages of  the books found on the shelves at our local library.
We also have a love for the ever expanding DVD collection at the Idaho Falls public library. We can check out up to 10 movies a week, and if we bring them back on time, it is completely free of charge. That's way better than Redbox or Netfix!

Another reason I love the DVDs, although it's a bit of a love/hate relationship, is that they can only be checked out for a week and cannot be renewed from home (like other library materials.) This fact alone keeps us returning to the library at least once a week.

I love being on a first name basis with so many of the librarians. Yesterday "Miss Kim" greeted my children by name. It brought warmth to my heart knowing that my children felt important and welcomed at the library. Jamayla, another librarian, knows to expect us on Thursday afternoons and often sets aside a few books that she thinks my boys would enjoy.

Although Idaho Falls is not necessarily a small town, being involved at the library, for me, has given it more of a "small town" feel. Because of the library I feel involved in and connected to my community, and I love it!

Friday, April 12, 2013

What is There to Like?

I am participating in a health and fitness challenge hosted by my friend Evelyn. It's almost the end of week 2. One of the challenges this week was to write a letter to yourself. I've been putting it off, but as the week is drawing to a close I'm thinking that I'd better get started. Don't worry, I won't write it here, but I've been trying to work through some thoughts before I get started.

This is the challenge:
Write a letter to yourself. (Include 5 things that you love about yourself, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. Identify NO MORE than 3 things you would like to change about yourself or your current life. This isn't about tearing yourself apart. This is an attempt to get in touch with YOU and to help you be aware of the good, the bad, and the soon to be good.)
As I wrote in an earlier post, I'm having a hard time thinking of things to like about myself lately. Which is really rather sad. I think that everyone should like themselves. This isn't about being humble, no one is going to read my letter but me. So why can't I come up with anything!?

I used to LOVE myself, no really. I don't mean to sound conceited, or self centered, but I was a hoot! I loved being me and I think that people genuinely enjoyed being around me, 'cause I was FUN!

I've been wondering what changed, and what caused the change. Since becoming a wife and mother I've had a bit of an identity-crisis. I am constantly trying to find my place and figure out just what my roles are.I know that now I am grown up and I have responsibilities. It is my job to raise and teach my children and I can't always be the light-hearted free spirit that I wish I was. But I still want to have fun!

I am more that just "Ryan's wife" or "______'s Mom" (Insert any one of my kids' names here.) I am still me, I am CARANNA - so what does that mean!?

Today marks the ten year anniversary of the day that my husband proposed to me. I have grown and changed a lot since that day 10 years ago. I have learned many lessons, some of those lessons were a lot harder than others, but would I really go back now? Having gained so much was it really at the cost of my former self?

When I was younger I was quick witted and funny. I found it easy to make jokes and make others laugh. I felt that I had a lot of talents, and I enjoyed sharing those with others. I enjoyed singing, acting and dancing. I was a pretty decent artist and often the life of the party. I had a strong belief in my faith, a strong testimony and a powerful conviction about what I believed. I was not ashamed of those beliefs and often shared them with others. I was a member of the seminary council in my senior year of high school and thoroughly enjoyed that. Plus, I got to be a member of the relief society presidency my very first semester of college.

I think one of my main problems is that I'm just too exhausted to care any more. I'm too tired to feel much conviction about anything. Everyday is more just a struggle to survive. I figure I'm doing good if I make it from breakfast to bed time each day.

Perhaps I just need to find my passion, and maybe remembering how "cool" I used to be is the key to unlocking that in my current situation.

The year after I got married we attended a family reunion, I had a 2 month old baby at the time. They were trying to get enough family members together for a "talent show" to fill one of the evenings, but there weren't many volunteers. One of my cousins approached me to ask if I would lead the group in singing silly camp songs. My Aunt, who lived in the same town as me, and had thus spent a lot of time with me in the year since my marriage, answered for me before I had a chance. Shaking her head and saying, "Oh she's no fun any more. She got all old and boring!"

I know that the comment was made in jest, and I love my Auntie, but it still stung. I too felt that I had become "old and boring" and I've never quite recovered. As I've gone from one child to five I think I've just got older and boring-er. I'm not sure how to fix it, but I want to!

Here's a picture of Ryan and I at my parent's house when we were engaged, before I was so "old and boring." We were making breakfast. (Digital cameras have come a long way in the last 10 years.)